The evolution of US ice hockey
Ice hockey is one of the four most admired and widespread team disciplines in North America, along with American baseball, football, and basketball. The NHL for men and the PHF for women are based in America and are regarded as the best leagues of this discipline.
In the 1990s, the NHL management tried to make the sport known in the southern states, which were therefore rather atypical for this sport. Such initiative was mainly due to the period of expansion of the NHL in 1991-2000, which primarily included teams from the southern regions in the league. Today, the NHL has managed to create and maintain teams in all the regions of the country, spreading the sport across the country.
What is the US Ice Hockey Association?
The official hockey associations in the US and Canada are the only sports institutions with their own rule books. They organize various tournaments of different levels for professional players and amateurs, which, in contrast to neighboring Canada, is practiced by significantly fewer athletes, but which is still widespread throughout the US. In addition to the numerous youth leagues, many tournaments for seniors to the over-50s are held.
The US national ice hockey team has won Olympic gold twice (1960 in Squaw Valley, 1980 in Lake Placid), silver eight times and bronze once. In the history of the association, the US team became world champions in 1933. At the world championships, the team has come in second place behind the Canadians with nine silver medals so far, and twice it got the win at the global tournaments (2005 and 2008).
How is ice hockey developing currently?
Unless there is a corona pandemic, the competition in the US sports market is quite fierce. Leagues of the most admired disciplines in the US compete for fans’ favor. While ice hockey is only the fourth most loved discipline in the USA, it is mainly located in isolated areas, including the Northeast, Midwest and Alaska. In these metropolitan areas, however, the sport tends to enjoy the same or greater admiration than America’s other three national sports. Major cities in US hockey include Buffalo, Detroit, Pittsburgh, Minneapolis, Chicago, Boston, New York City, Philadelphia, Tampa, and Denver.
Analysis has shown that American football is clearly the leader. 21 states have an NFL team at the top. In second place – in 17 other states – college football ranks first. Ice hockey leads in exactly one state.
What discrimination issues are there in the NHL?
There is an opinion that this sport is losing popularity due to the fact that it is not watched by minority people since minorities are underrepresented in the NHL.
In this discipline, as in other sports disciplines, the topic of discrimination against homosexuality is discussed more openly, although it remains taboo for many countries and certain disciplines. Most high-level and top players who come out do so after their career ends. There are those who publicly identify themselves as gay, lesbian or bisexual – but there are only a few dozen people around the world.
Not so long ago in the NHL, there was a real breakthrough in the fight against discrimination. Active defender of “Nashville”, 19-year-old Canadian Luke Prokop came out and admitted that he was gay. The guy received the support of the club and the commissioner of the NHL.
It is also interesting that in the United States there are special organizations to support gays. For example, the New York City Gay Hockey Association is an LGBT sports institution based in New York City. It pursues the goal of maintaining openness in matters of their sexual orientation, as well as supporting gay hockey players.